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How does relocation impact child custody and visitation?

On Behalf of | Jul 7, 2022 | Uncategorized |

For a litany of reasons, a Delaware family law case can be emotionally, personally and financially challenging. In a divorce, the sides are trying to maximize the property division, receive or limit alimony, get custody of a child and ensure they have sufficient visitation rights. This is common even in cases where the parties are on relatively good terms. In cases where they are in dispute, it can become increasingly contentious as they try to achieve their goals.

Even after a case has been completed, there may still be lingering fears. One that frequently comes up is if a custodial parent wants to move to a different geographic area with the child.

That could mean remaining in Delaware or moving to another state entirely. For parents who are worried about this scenario – whether it is from the perspective of the parent who wants to relocate or the other parent – it is useful to be aware of the law and how to address the case.

What does Delaware law say about a parent relocating with the child?

A parent might want to relocate for many reasons. It could be due to a desire to live closer to their family; for a job; for education; or because of a new love interest. If they have custody of a child, the other parent could have concerns about this as it may present an obstacle to having as close a relationship with the child as they did before the move. It could also cause financial hardship.

State law says that if the relocation will go beyond 60 days and the move is out of state or will have a material impact on the current custody and visitation agreement, the court will assess it based on multiple factors and decide whether to approve it.

The relationships that will be affected are considered. If the child will no longer see the non-relocating parent and siblings as much as before and it could harm the child’s development, the court can deny the request.

Children of different ages have different needs. The younger the child, the more likely it is they will benefit from having a stable and ongoing relationship with both parents. This also covers the child’s development physically, emotionally and educationally. This too is considered.

If the visitation arrangements can be suitably adjusted, there is a better chance the court will approve of the move. Still, a move can strain the noncustodial parent in many ways and could warrant a denial.

The child, if they are of sufficient age and maturity, can have a say in the new arrangement. In some cases, the relocating parent will promote or prevent a relationship with the non-relocating parent. If this is done for an unjustified reason, the court can deny the request. The quality of the child’s life is paramount just as the best interests are key in the custody and visitation protocol. These considerations will factor in with the court’s decision and the outcome.

When relocation impacts child custody and visitation, having help is crucial

In family law, when the couple is friendly or puts their personal issues aside for the good of the child, a relocation can lead to hard feelings and acrimony. Since people with young children tend to be somewhat young themselves, they will want to know about the financial ramifications and long-term implications the move presents.

If they are receiving assistance from parents or grandparents in paying their bills, they will need to know about costs and the possibility of a successful outcome to their case. Perhaps there is room for negotiation such as a parent receiving more visitation than they did originally to account for the move.

Seeking amicable solutions to child custody and visitation cases is always a preferable strategy to heading back to court, but it is sometimes necessary to do so. This is especially true with an attempted relocation. Regardless of the circumstances, those involved in this type of case should have assistance from the outset to try and reach a positive outcome and serve the child’s best interests.